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Rescue Task Force Porter County

From left, Valparaiso Police Department Chief Jeff Balon, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Julie Lauck, Valparaiso Fire Department Rescue Task Force Coordinator Todd Konradi and Valparaiso Fire Department Chief Chad Dutz.

VALPARAISO — In light of the hail of shootings that killed several last year, three Northwest Indiana agencies have partnered to create the newly-emerged Rescue Task Force.

Last year the nation saw 27 active shooting incidents that caused 85 deaths and wounded 128 victims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lt. Robert Schulte of the Valparaiso Fire Department said those statistics have been part of the driving force behind the formation of the Rescue Task Force. The three agencies have been training for more than a year and departments have spent thousands of dollars on equipment to ensure they are prepared for threats.

The RTF includes the Valparaiso Police Department, Valparaiso Fire Department and Porter County Sheriff's Department. The group consists of a partnership between firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers who are trained to deal with an array of dangerous situations, including active shooters and terrorist attacks.

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In the event of an active threat, the team members would come together to swiftly aid those needing medical attention and evacuate any casualties on scene. The use of such groups has saved lives in mass casualty incidents.

In addition, Valparaiso Community Schools have provided backdrops for realistic training exercises and have partnered with the emerging RTF. The schools have added stop-the-bleed kits in certain fire extinguisher cabinets throughout the facilities.

Schulte said the community can help the RTF by reporting suspicious incidents to the law enforcement agencies involved in the task force.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.